Kidnapping Santa keeps holiday spirit alive for weeks |

Kidnapping Santa keeps holiday spirit alive for weeks

Andrew Gmerek

Maybe it was a trick of perception. Maybe my Christmas-saturated child’s mind missed the struggle, pushing, shoving and the stress of the holiday season, absorbing only the good stuff like candy, cookies, brightly wrapped presents and a visit from Santa Claus.

But whatever the reason, the Christmas season has always been magical for me, and I’m not ready to give that up.

It seems, however, that the whole Christmas tradition has slowly changed from a season filled with friends, family and goodwill to everyone, to one where even the words “Merry Christmas” are barked out with about as much thought as is given to answering a cell phone.

Christmas has become something to endure or survive instead of a time to shut it off, turn it down and take a break.

It has shrunk from more than a month (I’m not talking about the retail season here, which I know has grown to irritating proportions) to barely a day, and I personally want to stretch it out again.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as strapped for time as just about anyone at the holidays. Especially now that I have a little one who expects me to make all her dreams come true.

As an example of how bad it’s become at my house, this year my outside light display didn’t come close to my usual high standards.

Granted I don’t normally go overboard like some people do, but still, I’ve always found my outside display respectable. At the very least, I usually string swag lights from the roof and twinkle lights from the deck railing. Then I always top off my work with a lit-up Santa waving from my porch.

This year, however, my Christmas display turned out slightly odd, because I basically bungeed my plastic Santa to a gray, metal step ladder and weighed the whole thing down with some left-over roofing shingles.

Which, I’m sorry to say, means my Christmas lights look more like a kidnapping than a holiday celebration.

All I need to do is duct tape poor Santa’s mouth shut and I’m guaranteed a police visit or at the very least a hearing in front of the homeowners association board of directors.

The idea of stretching the holiday season has caused – at least in my household – a few marital battles every year. These same fights have occurred so often they’ve become part of our Christmas tradition.

My wife’s family believes the new year should always start out fresh and, therefore, Bev insists that the decorations, lights and presents all be packed away by New Year’s Eve.

That’s it. Pencils down. Everyone go home. The party’s over, and it’s time to get on with things.

My family, however, being populated with good Polish/Italian Catholic folks that never want the party to end, always waits until the Epiphany to close the celebration. The Epiphany occurs in the early part of January and is the traditional day when the three wise men brought gifts to Jesus.

Being a wise family ourselves, we pushed the limits of the celebration. The holiday season lasted until the eggnog soured and smelled like my brother’s socks, the needles fell off the tree impaling bare feet and at least 50 percent of our new Christmas toys were broken. It was truly a holiday “season.”

Holidays have always helped me mark time, so I say take the time to enjoy the holidays. Just because it’s the day after Christmas doesn’t mean the feelings of peace, joy and goodwill should end.

Besides, if you stop celebrating the fat man gets it.

Andrew Gmerek writes a Friday column for the Summit Daily News. He can be reached at

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